Thursday, July 21, 2011

4:00 am: BG Beauregard issues orders for battle


Beauregard put the finishing touches on his battle orders and sat back satisfied. He submitted them to Johnston – his superior officer – for approval. The orders were confusing, and some outright contradictory. It also grouped the brigades into divisions on the morning of an attack, without any chance to set up systems of communication.

Three divisions would be under the command of Theophilus Holmes, perhaps because Beauregard wanted to emulate Johnston’s generosity to a subordinate. The first division would be the brigades of Ewell and Holmes that would march north from Union Mills Ford and be ready to attack Centreville or further east. The second was Jones and Early, to march from McLean’s Ford to follow the first and be ready to attack either the Centreville Road or Fairfax Station. The third was Longstreet and Thomas Jackson from Johnston’s army, to go forward parallel to the second.

The remaining two divisions and the reserves are first listed as under a second in command, and then listed as under Beauregard himself. The orders are unclear whether he viewed himself as second in command to Johnston or intended to appoint someone else to that post. The fourth was Bonham and Bartow (one of Johnston’s), to go parallel to the third from Mitchell’s Ford and have the responsibility of taking Centreville. The fifth was Cocke and Elzey (another of Johnston’s) to march from the Stone Bridge on Centreville. The sixth was two of Johnston’s brigades, Bee and Wilcox, which would be the army’s reserve.

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